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Yellow hair following sequential application of bacitracin zinc and selenium sulfide: Report of acquired xanthotrichosis and review of yellow hair discoloration


BackgroundAcquired yellow hair (xanthotrichosis) can result from the deposition of pigmented compounds on the hair shaft or from chemical modification of hair pigment and protein molecules.

PurposeA white-haired 77-year-old woman who developed xanthotrichosis of her scalp hair following the sequential application of bacitracin zinc ointment and selenium sulfide 2.5% lotion is described and the causes of yellow hair discoloration are reviewed.

Materials and methodsThe clinical features of a woman with acquired yellow hair discoloration are presented. Using PubMed and Google Scholar, the following terms were searched and relevant citations were assessed: bacitracin zinc, hair discoloration, selenium sulfide, xanthotrichosis, and yellow hair.

ResultsYellow hair was observed on the scalp in areas treated with the following regimen: prior to bedtime, several areas of the scalp were treated with a single application of bacitracin zinc ointment. The next morning, selenium sulfide 2.5% lotion was applied and then rinsed from the scalp during showering. Yellow hair discoloration was apparent in co-treated areas immediately following rinsing; the discoloration gradually faded over 2-5 days with regular shampooing.

ConclusionsAcquired yellow hair shaft discoloration has been reported secondary to multiple etiologies, including environmental and occupational exposures, iatrogenic causes (including topical and systemic drugs) and protein-calorie malnutrition. To this list, we add yellow discoloration of white scalp hair due to application of selenium sulfide following topical use of bacitracin zinc in the affected areas as an unexpected adverse effect that may occur in individuals with white hair.

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